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Teaching Polish as a Foreign Language
October 1, 2010   
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The University of Silesia’s School of Polish Language and Culture in Katowice teaches Polish to foreigners and promotes Poland and Polish culture among foreigners and Poles living abroad. The school is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

Learning Polish has become trendy among foreigners in recent years, according to the school’s head, Prof. Jolanta Tambor. Over the past 20 years, the school has taught Polish to almost 4,000 students from 87 countries.

The University of Silesia’s School of Polish Language and Culture provides courses at all levels from elementary to advanced, in addition to specialty courses such as Business Polish, courses for those wanting to study in Poland, and classes in Polish for students taking part in international exchange programs. The school also runs a summer school of the Polish language, literature and culture and the Polish-Austrian Summer College, in a joint project with the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Art. Moreover, students can enroll for a special program of Polish studies with classes in Polish geography and history and lectures about Polish literature and film.

The school also trains teachers. It runs a seminar on the Polish language and culture for those teaching Polish to foreigners abroad. There are also other seminars and conferences on the Polish language and culture as well as seminars and conferences on teaching Polish as a foreign language. In 1998, the school launched a postgraduate program for those wanting to teach Polish as a foreign language. A few years later the school followed up with similar programs in Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus and Germany. As of this year, such postgraduate studies are additionally available in Italy.

Tackling Polish pronunciation

The School of Polish Language and Culture conducts research into how Polish literature is perceived abroad. Other research areas include Polish pronunciation and the methods of teaching Polish as a foreign language. The school has organized several international conferences focusing on these matters. The school’s staff have written a number of research and educational papers as well as textbooks for teaching Polish.

The school works with centers for Polish and Slavic studies abroad and sends teachers to lecture abroad as part of bilateral agreements and student exchange programs. It has bilateral agreements with the Martin Luther King University of Halle-Wittemberg, Germany, the Palacky University of Olomouc, Czech Republic, the State Pedagogical University in Minsk, Belarus, and the University of Debrecen, Hungary. As part of the EU’s Erasmus student exchange program, the school works with 17 institutions of higher education in France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Latvia and several other European countries.

Teachers of Polish trained by the school work around the world in places as far away from Poland as Seattle and Beijing. The school contributes to promoting the Polish language during Polish language and culture workshops held in different countries. In 2006, the school’s staff started working with Polish teachers in Britain and have written a special textbook for Polish children in Britain.

Summer school

In the summer, the school offers an intensive month-long course in Polish at the University of Silesia’s campus in the town of Cieszyn. The course comprises around 100 hours of classes, in addition to cultural activities, sightseeing and entertainment.

Every year, the course attracts around 100 students, including academics from abroad, businesspeople, diplomats and enthusiasts of Polish culture. The students take part in language workshops at different levels, afternoon and evening seminars, movie screenings, poetry and song soirees, concerts and meetings with politicians and prominent cultural figures.

The summer school in Cieszyn also features workshops for teachers of Polish who work at schools outside Poland. These workshops also attract individuals who promote Polish culture abroad, journalists from Polish communities abroad, translators of Polish literature, and academic staff from centers for Polish and Slavic studies abroad.

Ewa Dereń
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